COVID Ponderings (and Akbash Dogs)

Since I got the first shot, I’ve been trying to understand the invisible effects of the pandemic on me. I know, solipsistic, but something’s happened. COVID-19 appeared in Colorado almost exactly a year ago, March 5, though now it’s believed it was here in January. I remember taking a long walk (big surprise) and thinking about what it would mean for me. I believed that my responsibility to the world and my community was simply not to get sick. Our hospitals are small and since I am not obliged to do anything like go to work, and I’m not caring for anyone, I could easily “isolate” and I did.

I’m sure everyone’s “Covid story” follows a pattern and it’s likely our patterns are somewhat similar.

In my small life the pattern is essentially the same as depicted in these memes, but with some differences. The second image (going left from the top) is everyone around me scurrying to make masks for our hospitals and discussing what we all could do. The image bottom left is everyone realizing that this isn’t going away any time soon and feeling haggard, tired and a little betrayed. This isn’t supposed to happen to us!!! The bottom right is resignation. I hit the Nutella in picture two, top, but decided that was a bad idea unless I wanted to buy a lot of new clothes. It’s amazing, though, how many psychological problems are healed by Nutella. I hit the bottom left picture (middle version) a few days ago when I woke up thinking, “I want that damned shot NOW!” I’m still there.

The shot left my arm very sore and me very tired for three days. It also shoved in front of me the reality that this life I’ve chosen, and to which I’ve adapted, is going to come to an end. Since I have come to understand through this year (thanks to the cranes) that what matters most in life is life itself, specifically my life, I’ve been wondering if many of the things we do are nothing more than time fillers and illusions. We need human connection, but, at the same time there is no human connection without human life. That was one of the first things that struck me on those early COVID walks. “If I’m not here any more, then I’m not hanging out with my friends.”

The sudden and necessary prioritization of self was shocking until I realized that we rely on others to take care of themselves. That’s what makes a person trustworthy, knowing that that person is NOT going to throw him/herself willy-nilly into oblivion. That is (I think) why sane people reacted so vehemently to DJT (jokingly?) telling people to inject bleach and Dr. Scarf not standing up for medical science (and herself). Deep inside each creature (I believe) is a small wise voice saying, “There’s a meteorite around every corner. Break the ice in the trough or die.” I see the cattle out there finding the ONE warm place, a pile of dung, on which to lie during the deep cold.

I’m not the same person I was in March 2020, and I’m not sure I want to “return” to that person. I can’t NOT know what I’ve learned in this interval. Are you the same person or has this experience launched you into self-discovery, too?

In other news, here’s a video that shows what Akbash dogs (like Bear) do when they have a job:

Less is More…

More words count less
Hold fast to the center. Lao Tse

Lao Tse’s words have echoed in my mind for years. As a writer I learned that wordiness hides the story. As a reader I learned that wordiness hides the story. That said, there are a lot of people who’ve reviewed my books there are many reviewers who say my prose is not “descriptive” enough. Others say it’s, “lyrical” and “fast moving.”

One man’s note is another man’s symphony. (Ralph, Muppets)

HOW a person writes a story depends on what the story is. Since I write historical fiction, there’s a fine line between what my readers need to know about the world they enter when they open my book and what the people in the story already know about their world. Memoir, too, though I have found that a little easier to navigate.

I’ve read a memoir for the contest that should have been very interesting, but in the second chapter, suddenly, the author seems to have forgotten that the story is the big deal and begins laborious introductions of family members and their life stories. I was disappointed because I wanted the book to do well. I was talking to the author, “No, please, don’t do this.” But the author HAD done that and would lose any reader there, I think. Even in a memoir, characters are interesting because of what they DO.

I’m not writing anything now and am even pondering what to do with my blog. I enjoyed the couple of days I decided to write short poems in response to the prompt though I was disappointed yesterday when readers didn’t realize I wasn’t writing about The Godfather per se, but about Donald Trump. Or they didn’t and didn’t want to talk about it. That’s OK. I remember spending HOURS in seminars trying to figure out what this or that poet actually meant. Still, perhaps I reached a high level of obscurity in my life’s second ever cinquain and I’m proud to have achieved so much with so little effort.

Crane Festival-like

Though Monte Vista will not have a real, live Crane Festival this year, and has gone “virtual” for the event, the crane themselves are nonplussed. They are here in large numbers now, dancing and purring and calling out and just generally craning as only they can. Lots of crane tourists. I met my first nasty entitled white blond lady (grrrr) and she got under my skin for a moment. She waved her skinny, tanned, gold-braceleted hand out the window of her Lexus SUV and said, “Dogs are not allowed back here.” In fact, they are, leashed, as a big sign at the entry informs everyone (who reads signs). I was all, “grrrr, grrr, grrr,” until the cranes reminded me you don’t hang around for millions of years getting upset with know-it-all, ignorant women who tell you, incorrectly, that “dogs are not allowed here.” At least I had the sense not to respond. And when she passed us again, going the wrong way on that one way road (it’s a oneway loop) I just kept my peace, hoping she didn’t find out the hard way.

The rest of the crane tourists were normal. There were a couple groups of dog owners who gave me the chance to give Bear a learning moment. The people were all very friendly and excited to see the cranes.

One group was really nice people from Pagosa Springs who’d brought champagne for the occasion and were nuts about Bear.

I love crane stories. One of the women told me of an experience she’d had a few years ago, saying, ”And then they ALL flew up at once, and flew over me! When does that happen?”

“Sunset or sunrise, or when a predator is over head, an eagle or something.”


“Yeah, eagles prey on cranes.”

What a lovely afternoon.

Aldo Leopold wrote in his exquisite A Sand County Almanac: “Our appreciation for the crane grows with the slow unraveling of earthly history. His tribe, we now know, stems out of the remote Eocene. The other members of the fauna in which he originated are long since entombed within the hills. When we hear his call, we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.”

Here’s a phone picture of what I saw today. The crane tourists were VERY lucky to have the birds so close to the road. I’m taking my camera next time.

Hundreds of Sandhill cranes doing what cranes do.

A couple of links:

This one will take you to the Virtual Monte Vista Crane Festival and tell you how to sign up.

This one will take you to a very interesting article about cranes AND blue herons.


Communication is challenging, and yesterday I had some experiences that reminded me how difficult it is, maybe especially in writing, but I’m not sure about that. I think voice and 3D are fraught with dangers, too. I have a friend with an old Golden retriever. The dog is having trouble going up and down the small flights of stairs in my friend’s house. The friend is anxious that he’s going to have to put the dog to sleep soon.

I said, “I was thinking that B doesn’t get a lot of exercise. Maybe if you just started taking him on short walks he’d regain some muscle. It would help with his arthritis, too.” (I know this because I have arthritis.) My goal — to give my friend something positive to do with his dog that might help (and his dog might like). I got?

“Why are you always telling me what to do? I don’t want to argue.” I wasn’t telling him what to do, and I wasn’t arguing. BUT to assert that would lead to an argument AND whether or not he walked his dog wasn’t my business. I remembered again that, in one way or another, we’re all fucked up.

A couple more experiences like that via my blog yesterday, and, this morning I realized (again), “It’s very very difficult to make sense to other people. Everyone (me too) is in their own head, and we don’t always (ever?) understand what another person says.” That’s why we often think, “I wish I’d said this instead of that.” It’s possibly exacerbated because in the last year we’ve all lived a lot more in our own little worlds added to the increasingly polemical and aggressive social and political culture everywhere. So much of my social life has been here on this blog.

This morning the band-aid fell off the site of the vaccine, and I was happy to see it is a yellow band-aid with Daffy Duck on it. The side effects are a sore arm and a little tiredness. The backbone seems fine.

Concatenation of Events in this Best of All Possible Worlds

In other news…

So, not having a great day, not feeling 100%, decided to do something with the day and go get groceries, something I NEVER do on Saturday and usually not until I need a lot of stuff, but WTH, I needed bananas, eggs and dog food and some other stuff so I made my list and headed out at 2:30 for my 3:00 grocery pick up appointment. All went well, except the radio sucked, but whatev’

Then a couple of blocks from home I saw the sign “Covid Event: High School” so I made a quick turn into the wrong parking lot, got straightened out, filled in five forms and pulled my arm out of my sweaters and…

I got the first shot!!!! 🙂

If it had been a better day, if I hadn’t decided to do my shopping, if I hadn’t been out there at that very moment, only 30 minutes before they stopped giving shots, I wouldn’t have. As I waited in the parking lot for 15 minutes to be sure I didn’t have a reaction, the kids’ dad pulled up next to me, having just gotten his shot, and we had a great time talking. Really really really amazing. The kids’ dad (who’s in his 40s) was there because his mechanics shop has been sent several broken water pumps from Texas to repair and he is now an essential worker.

Tomorrow Bear and I will go to the Refuge and thank the powers. ❤

Not Moving

I’ve never been part of a movement. It was knocked into my head when I was a kid that you don’t join things. My dad began his career during McCarthyism and saw what happened to fellow grad students, professors and colleagues. It was a major thing with him not to form “entangling alliances,” and not only in social movements. It was his advice to me in matters of love.

When people organize into a movement, things can degenerate into power struggles and infighting. Unification on the basis of hatred is the most dangerous and the most volatile. It also seems to have the greatest potential to endure long enough to destroy things. Anger can be strangely satisfying and it is addictive. It doesn’t concern itself with the future all that much, either. It just wants to break things.

During the late sixties/early seventies, my teens, I watched the “youth movement” in all its various shapes and saw — even at my young age — that many of the various facets didn’t have a plan for the future. I wondered even then, “OK but what are you going to do INSTEAD?” I understood protesting the draft and the Vietnam War. I understood demonstrating for the vote for 18 year olds. Those objectives were focused and clean, though the movements weren’t. The objectives gave the movements an end point, something to negotiate. Sitting in for “peace and love” was way too abstract for me.

OK, I’m not very subtly referring to the insurrection at the capitol on January 6. I wonder what they were planning if they had TAKEN the Capitol and made hostages of some of the Congress people? Were they going to insist Trump be made president or else? And then? Setting up a monarchy with 45 followed by his son and/or daughter?

There’s an image from David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia that I thought about during the insurrection. Lawrence led the Arab Revolt (against the Turks) during WW I, basically a side-show that distracted one of the Allies’ enemies and gave Britain (France, etc.) the toehold in the Middle East that we’ve struggled with through the whole 20th and into the 21st century. It’s true that at the time no one knew about ALL the oil in that region, but… So in the film the Arab army takes Damascus. They go to the state house, sit around the table and prepare to start a new government. Then they realize they have no idea how. They don’t know how to use the power station to generate electricity. The city is quickly out of water. Government means technical skills and education; it means pushing papers and the tribal leaders don’t want to. It’s a gorgeous scene.

I’ve also realized that 1) I want my vaccination, 2) I’m tired of the present moment or tired from the present moment. Hard to say which it is.

Quotidian Update 8 million 2 thousand and 42

Teddy might be done warming the bench. He was a little confused this morning without his bandage OR cone but then he said, “Put me in coach,” and I have — unless he messes with his foot. For now, the cone is relegated to a corner and we’re (as always) hoping for the best. He’s a passionate little groomer of all things Teddy and hasn’t had the chance for nearly a month to give himself a good wash. He’s at it now.

I’m without projects which is becoming a little uncomfortable, but, at the same time, I’m anticipating another shipment of books to evaluate. Maybe it’s just a momentary stasis in the relentless production of garden signs.

Not every day is Christmas, though the last couple of days have kind of felt like it with the amazing Chinese furniture, new boots and Donald Valdez, the guy I want to run for Lauren Boebert’s (CO D3) Congressional seat, throwing his Stetson into the corral. Valdez is currently on our state assembly. He’s from here (Heaven) and knows the concerns and interests of Southern Colorado which is, in many ways, the forgotten orphan child of Colorado. If you’re curious, you can learn more about him here. And if you feel like it, you could pitch in to his campaign. No one owns him, so it will be a true grass roots effort. The other good news on that front is that it appears Boebert will have a Republican challenger as well. Whatever it takes, AR 15 Barbie has to go. Meanwhile, I’m having fun making memes.

Boebert with guns at Congressional committee meeting